Committee Debates Requiring Insurance For College Students

This story was written by Drew Garver, Daily Texan
The Texas House of Representatives Committee of Higher Education held a public hearing on issues relating to health insurance for university students Tuesday at the Capitol.

The hearing started with a discussion about whether health insurance should be mandatory for enrollment at institutions of higher education.

Texas legislation gives universities the option to offer health insurance plans through the school to students, but it is not required. Rice, Trinity and Texas State universities are some of the Texas colleges that have elected to offer affordable health insurance.

A survey conducted by the Texas Department of Insurance found that nearly 25 percent of people ages 18 to 24 are not insured.

Dianne Longley, director of research and analysis for the department, said that because students tend to be relatively young and healthy, insurance for them could be provided at very low rates, which could make it easier for universities to offer their own insurance plans.

Students who are covered under their parents or have their own plans would be exempt from having to sign up for a university-provided plan, but those without insurance would be required to sign up for a discount plan through the university.

The committee also brought up the possibility of making the student health insurance plan a statewide plan instead of leaving it up to each college to provide their own. This would be put into effect in an effort to generate volume, cutting costs even further. Some of the committee members expressed concerns over the cost to prospective students.

"It seems that for the low-income student, this is just one more add-on that makes it more difficult to afford higher education," said committee member Helen Giddings, D-Dallas.
© 2008 Daily Texan via U-WIRE